Anais Nin At The Grand Guignol
By Robert Levy
Lethe Press (170 pages, $13 in paperback, no digital edition?)
Read Robert Levy’s Anais Nin At The Grand Guignol from Lethe Press. Being a fan of Henry Miller and Anais Nin and the whole dynamic milieu of 1930’s Paris, when I saw this book I had to check it out and was not disappointed.
In the voice of Nin, it tells of her journey into the dark world of the Grand Guignol, a playhouse of horror themes and outre sketch drama where she finds a new passion beyond Miller and June and her husband. Someone thrilling and dangerous, Maxa, the most murdered woman in the world. To have Maxa she finds she must match wits against a monstrous creature of the night, Monsieur Guillard, in a surreal contest. The writing is really beautiful, from the descriptions of place, to the sex, to the macabre world of the bizarre theatre. A mysterious, whirling fantasy.
Levy really captures Nin’s writing voice and sensibility as well as her times. This is an instance of a writer doing more with less. A short novel that creates a complete reading experience. Check it out.
When I was in Baltimore for World Fantasy last year, I attended a reading by Zig Zag Claybourne (aka Clarence Young). He read from a novel, The Brother’s Jet Stream: Leviathan. When he was done I shook my head and thought, “What the f— was that?”
So I got the novel on my kindle a few weeks later, started at the beginning and went through it. I’m not about to try to summarize the plot to this book because I could only do it an injustice. You basically have the brothers Jetstream, Milo and Ramses, a pair of trench coat wearing, space traveling adventurers out to thwart the self cloning, evil Buford, but don’t forget the leviathan, a whale created at the dawn of the universe, women with super powers, Atlantis, a good measure of biblical reference and interwoven themes, checkers, the multiverse, vampires, etc.
What I encountered was a true to life contemporary Science Fiction epic that conquers and appropriates the tired world of Space Opera and reconstitutes it as a psychedelic (and I’m not referencing drugs here, but freewheeling visionary power) product of Afro-futurism. The language, the story-line, the characters, the entire sensibility of the book is full of a different kind of energy than pretty much any other SF I’ve seen. It’s akin in its narrative flow and hilarious humor to something like Robert Coover’s Ghost Town, but I sense a cultural identity in this that is different, more along the lines of Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo –not so much like Reed’s in that it’s about the history of humanity or lack thereof but it might be about the history of the whiteness of SF space adventure and what lies beyond that.
The Brothers Jetstream smashes the status quo to pieces.
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